Hi, yogis! Can you believe that we're already halfway through January of the new year?!Read More
Hi, friends! Some exciting news today on Alive in the Fire...
I'm now offering an e-book!
Are you feeling a little lost? Lacking direction or motivation? Or maybe you could just use a few moments of deep rest, of looking inward?
This one's for you!
Inherent to the practice of yoga is the element of Svadhyaya, or self-inquiry. We explore layers of awareness through physical sensation, breath, emotion, and thought.
In this 20-page workbook, I will lead you through a unique experience of yoga that includes asana (poses), meditation, chanting/sound vibration, and creative writing.
You’ll explore questions such as, what am I here for? What’s holding me back? Do I trust my inner wisdom? How can I release fear?
Asking these questions isn't easy work to do. We can start by creating a quiet space, breathing, and connecting with the physical body.
What we find can be beautiful and enlightening... it may also be painful or make us feel vulnerable, raw, or overwhelmed. It becomes our task, then, to trust the outcome and trust our inner wisdom. Sometimes we must walk through the fire in order to gain clarity.
My goal in offering this e-book is to extend a little piece of my yoga teaching into this community I've created here at Alive in the Fire, and help however many yogis I can experience a little more peace in their day-to-day lives.
It's $3 to purchase the e-book, and my hope is that it is a practical, useful tool that can enhance your yoga practice and help you discover something new about yourself along the way.
As always, I'm open to your feedback and would love to hear from you if you try out the e-book and want to share your experience (my email is aliveinthefire at gmail dot com).
Please check out the link below to support the project.
Sending each of you a heartfelt Namaste.
When you get stuck in a bad mood, what helps you get 'unstuck?'
Some days, I want to crawl back in bed by 9am, yell at other drivers on the road, give up, cry in the bathroom, crumple up my to-do list, run away, throw my phone in the garbage, or just drink wine even though it's only noon.
Recently, while I was having a bad day, I stumbled across a post from Rachel Brathen (Yoga Girl) about having bad moments, not bad days. She had compiled a list of things that helps her move on when things aren't going her way.
I loved how she put it: "Own it. Feel it. Get out of it."
Such a helpful reminder! When we feel stuck in a terrible mood, we do have the choice to try and shift out of it.
So, I made my own list, and I'm planning to refer back to it the next time I'm feeling stuck. Hope these ideas are helpful to you, too (whether it's a Monday or not a Monday!).
- Breathe. Pause to notice my body. When I feel angry or frustrated, I tend to breathe less. Or, if I'm anxious, I might even hold my breath. Simply sitting down and choosing to take five deep breaths can make a big difference in giving myself the time to become aware of how my body feels. I do a quick scan, head to toe, to see what I notice. It helps to pause the thoughts, notice the body, and increase the breath.
- Get outside. Or at least get out of the house. If I'm near a walking path, a beach, or a park, I'll go there. I sit in the sunshine and notice the sounds around me. I try to notice the other people, too, and that I am not alone.
- Practice yoga. If the thought creeps in, "I don't want to," or, "I can't today," ignore it. I roll out my mat anyway. If I can get to the studio, I go take a class and I do my best to let the teacher and the yogis around me hold space for me. I do my favorite poses, ten minutes minimum. Sun salutations are great for getting the spine moving, which shifts energy in the body.
- Invert. Getting upside down has a physical effect on the brain, and it can help shift your mood. I like to take headstand for at least 8-10 breaths. Headstand doesn't make things perfect, or even change my circumstances, but it certainly offers me a momentary shift in perspective.
- Be around animals. Animals don't judge you, and they listen. They love unconditionally. Give your dog a walk, or a hug, and see if it can help you smile, even if only for a moment.
- Make a list. Start with the things that are bothering the most. Notice, how are they related to your fears or insecurities? When I write about these things, it tends to help me realize what negative thoughts are making me feel stuck. Sometimes I even like to write down those thoughts and then draw a big fat line through them, as a reminder that my mind is not in a truthful space. It's almost like telling my thoughts, "NO, you're wrong" and it helps me move forward. The alternative list you can make: shit I accomplished today! Yeah, taking a shower counts! So does getting dressed, eating a nourishing meal, and putting your dishes in the dishwasher!
- Rest. A lot of times I get in a shitty mood because I've been going too fast and too hard for too long. I'm exhausted. My body is suffering, or tired, or hurting. Taking a short nap, a hot bath, or a night off can make a big difference in getting back into a good mood.
- Get off of social media. Social media encourages us to compare ourselves to everyone around us. If I'm having a shit day, seeing other people smiling about all the happy things they're up to doesn't tend to help. One trick I use is to put the icons for Facebook and Instagram on a different 'page' of my phone, so I have to scroll a couple times to get to them. That way, I can't just mindlessly click to look at notifications. Trust that spending some time away from the stories and input of those around you will give you clarity.
- Talk through it. Usually the thing that helps me the most is to call, text, or talk to someone who loves me unconditionally. Opening up and voicing what my concerns are-- it really takes the pressure off. I try to be selective about who I talk to, and choose someone that is going to listen and be supportive, not try to change the situation for me or make me feel guilty, upset, or ashamed.
- Give yourself some small token of appreciation, or pause for a moment to celebrate. I like to wear jewelry as a reminder of what mantra I'm trying to keep in my mind, or put on a piece of clothing that makes me feel beautiful, or confident. Or I go to a coffee shop and buy myself a coffee, and focus on the fact that I deserve to feel good for a part of my day. It can also be helpful to pause and ask, "What's going well today? Anything?" and even if the answer is that I was able to get laundry done, I pause for a moment to celebrate that damn laundry.
- Let yourself off the hook for doing a whole damn list, and just do one thing that feels good. Maybe none of these things are going to help me get out of a bad mood today. So, move on from those, and do one thing that will help. When you take a moment to ask yourself what that one thing is, you'll know. Just go do it.
- And, because it's worth repeating, remind yourself: YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH, YOU ARE ENOUGH, YOU ARE LOVED.
Photos via Pinterest and by Justin Kral and Respiro Photography.
Happy Monday, yogis! Hope you had a beautiful weekend.
I wanted to take a moment to invite you to join my email newsletter! :) Exciting times... it only took me 5+ years to get my act together as a blogger and get an email list going. Ha!
In all honesty, I would love if you join the list... you guys are the reason I write and you make this community what it is. :) I'll be sharing updates with recent blog posts, ideas for kicking your yoga practice into gear, info about my upcoming coastal yoga retreat (!!!), and other fun updates. There's a signup form below, and a spot in the sidebar at the right where you can always sign up.
Thanks, as always for being a part of Alive in the Fire! Namaste.
Photos in this post by Brynna Bryant and Tom Huynh.
Are you willing to risk falling?
What parts of your ego are you willing to surrender?
This practice of Yoga is not always pretty; in my experience, it is messy, embarrassing, risky, and humbling.
Yoga is not simply being able to say, 'I can hold the pose effortlessly'... it is also being able to say, 'This pose took years, but I kept trying,' or, 'I'm terrified, but I'm doing this anyway.' Or even, 'This pose may never happen in my body, but I'm not letting myself be defined by that.'
Yoga is a daring act of staring fear down and not letting it win.
Yoga is the willingness to love yourself even when you fail miserably.
Yoga happens when you are facing a situation that feels impossible, something you can't imagine surviving -- like the loss of a loved one, a divorce, an injury that changes your life, an unplanned pregnancy, a fire that consumes your house.
Even though everything is messed up and you're making mistakes and crying alone in the bathroom at night, you're willing to feel everything that is happening. You're willing to stay present, and you even manage to love yourself in the small moments when you feel more alive than you have in years.
It is in these moments -- when your feet are covered in dirt and the ground is slipping out beneath you-- that you're truly in your practice. Not the easy, comfortable, flat wooden floors at the yoga studio. The part when you're barefoot in the cold. The part where you step on a piece of glass and have to call out because it hurts so much.
The part when you fall, and somehow, you get back up.
All this... all your willingness to keep going, to try again, to stay true to who you are... this is Yoga.
When I started this blog, I named it according to the way that I want to walk through life: with passion. With fearlessness. With a radiant glow in my heart that impacts everything I do.
Feeling 'alive in the fire' means I am in tune with my own fiery energy, my willingness, the life force I carry.
I'm so grateful that this month Yogi Surprise themed their box around honoring the fire within, on summertime excitement and love. A perfect match for my lovely little yoga blog!
- Bicycling (reclined core work)
- Knees to chest
Meet the lovely and fierce Sarah, featured today in the Badass Women series. When I started this series on the blog, Sarah was one of the first women I thought of... not only is she an incredible yoga teacher, but she is also a martial artist and expert pastry chef, a singer, a soon-to-be-mom, and a generous friend.
Even without knowing all of these things about Sarah, when I first met her I knew that she was someone I wanted to spend more time with. Her wisdom and playful sense of humor are infectious, and I'm grateful that each time I see her I'm reminded to live in the moment, and to make no compromises.
Thank you, Sarah, for your humble and open heart, and for sharing your story.
Clarify your vision. Get really clear on what you want. And then be kind to yourself in the process.
The more I love myself and others, the more impact I can have. I want to continue making my healing journey a priority, and developing my skills as a yoga teacher and a Reiki healer so that I can hold space for others. I always want to be learning new things.
To enter, please visit the JadeBloom website and leave a comment below listing your favorite item. For an extra entry, you can post a link to this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter (be sure to mention it in your comment below!).
For all its fancy postures and esoteric spiritual practices, yoga is, quite simply, a way of tuning in to what exactly is happening in the present moment.
I may be on my mat, in a posture (asana), feeling what it feels like to breathe (pranayama). Or maybe I'm choosing to treat others with kindness (ahimsa) in a moment where I want to react in anger.
Yoga helps us detach from needing everything to be perfect, and instead just to feel, to allow, to explore, to truly connect.
The gift of desperation
I realized (over again) that it is natural for strong emotions to surface during yoga class.
If you are going through a difficult period, you may find this reflected back to you while on the mat. And keep in mind: that's OK.
It's OK to be sad, or angry, or vulnerable during yoga class. It's normal to have tears, and it's OK to be unafraid to cry. In fact, yoga allows us a great time to process life's pain and to transform it into wisdom.
In recent months, I've experienced big changes in my life. I've had times where I felt defeated, lost, alone. I've felt overwhelmed by obstacles.
- Try a new art form. If you're a photographer, try paint. If you're a writer, pick up a piece of charcoal. Let yourself express freely, with no expectations.
- Learn to meditate.
- Sort through old photographs. Choose one that stands out to you and write a poem about it.
- Research free events or local museums in your area. Invite your neighbors to join you on an adventure to a concert or gallery showing.
- Plan a road trip somewhere you've never been. Or better yet (if you're like me), plan a bike trip.
- Try a new flavor of tea every day this week.
- Call a family member you haven't talked to in a long time. Thank them for a quality you appreciate about them. Remind them of why you love them.
- Host a dinner party.
- Host a yoga party.
Stress & worry don't serve us, but we turn to them. (Perhaps at the time it's the only way we know how to cope.)
I have had my share of anxiety and suffering, that's for sure. :)
Talk about being alive in the fire.
PS For more detailed photography of what these fiery artists can do, see here.